Thanks to a group of UTC engineering students, a class at Hixson Elementary has a great new piece of playground and therapy equipment.

P1000432An outdoor music center, comprised of a series of tubes and large metal “drums” made of clean, empty propane tanks, provides students in the Comprehensive Development Class (CDC) a great option for musical therapy and education sessions.

The pre-K class includes children with autism, Down’s syndrome, hearing impairments, and other developmental delays.

For children with developmental delays, musical therapy can be a very effective resource. Musical development milestones will often times parallel development in areas of gross and fine motor skills; speech, language, and communication skills; sensory motor skills; and social and interactive skills.

Besides being fun, experimenting with the musical elements of rhythm, melody, timbre, texture, and tempo can have a great impact on a child’s pattern of growth.

The pipes are situated so that the children can yell and sing into them.  The children are then answered by their own voice and other sound as it flows and vibrates through the tubes. According to engineering student Terona Chivers, the design process was the biggest challenge.

“Getting the drums and tubes mounted to the base securely while making sure it was portable and safe was the hardest part of the project. We ended up keeping it simple though, which is why it worked out so well,” said Chivers.

With treated 4x4s as the base and smoothed out edges and joints, the music center provides a safe and therapeutic learning environment. After being given a $400 budget, the group managed to complete their project under $325.

“Even though it was difficult, it was a great experience that really brought us all together as a team,” said engineering student Jacob Carroll.

Other members of the group included Logan Harper, Aleksandr Migovich, Brady Sherrill, and Holley Schumpert.

By Zach Taylor, University Relations Student Writer

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